Cost to Hire a Private Investigator: Prices, Rates, and Fees

Cost to Hire a Private Investigator: Prices, Rates, and Fees

Private investigators are professionals who are paid to help companies, individuals, and governments solve incidents in their lives. Some factors that may contribute to the price include the time needed for the investigation, whether or not you need a surveillance team for your house, and any additional services such as computer forensic services or fingerprinting.

Private investigator cost may vary depending on what type of investigation is needed. A simple investigation may cost less than $100, while some investigations can be $7,000 or more.

Factors That May Affect the Cost to Hire a Private Investigator

The going rate for a private investigator is not constant across all industries or regions. Costs associated with licensing, insurance, transportation, office space, etc., tend to be more expensive in densely populated locations. Cities like New York and San Francisco have a high cost of living, so hiring a private investigator there will cost more.

Investigation Experience and Expertise

Depending on the investigator’s level of expertise, the price of employing one can range substantially. A private investigator with a lengthy military or government intelligence background or a law enforcement background will typically charge more than their less experienced counterparts. Theoretically, someone with greater experience will have a better shot at solving your problem and do so faster.

Expenses and Supplementary Fees

You, the client, may be expected to pay for any costs incurred by the private investigator working on your case, depending on the terms of your agreement with them and the nature of the investigation. Supplies, court fees, postage, and communication costs are all examples of expenses that may arise during an investigation (phone calls, text messages, etc.).

Travel Expenses

Most private investigators will bill you for their travel costs if they need to go somewhere to gather information for your case. Investigators may have to go anywhere from around their home city to another state or even another country to follow a trail of clues. Here are some common kinds of travel costs: cost of mileage, fuel and parking, flight, bus, train, boat, and other transportation tickets.

The cost of a trip may quickly pile up, so it’s essential to know exactly what you’re budgeting for ahead of time.

Recovery of Data

Many private investigators now use web databases to research and find out more about their clients. Access to the database and the ability to run reports is available for a subscription fee or per-search cost from investigative agencies. You might expect to pay part of an Internet database search fee if your case goes that far. Pricing for these reports will vary.

Other Factors that May Affect Price

The cost may also be affected by the number of investigators working on the case, the degree of risk, the requirement for specialist equipment, etc.


The cost to hire a private investigator can vary based on the experience and expertise of the investigator. On average, the hourly cost for a private investigator is $45-$65 per hour. Additionally, they charge various rates and fees for their services, such as expenses related to investigations or background checks on people suspected of committing felonies or misconduct.